Friday, November 27, 2009

The Mexican Revolution: Past and present

Viva Zapata! Mexican Revolutionary hero Emiliano Zapata poses in full war regalia. This old picture is a classic of the Revolution, with Zapata clutching a Winchester rifle and wearing the obligatory crossed bandoliers and broad sombrero. Last week was the 99th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, which erupted on November 20, 1910. I had already collected a number of these wonderful old photos for a magazine article I wrote, and I decided to pair them up with some of the photos I shot at the Revolution Day celebration in Ajijic. The commentary that follows will focus both on the past and the present.

Emiliano Zapata was one of the two great generals of the Revolution who rose from humble places among the people. He was born on a small rancho in Morelos State, south of Mexico city. At an early age, he started organizing the campesinos against illegal land seizures by the hacienda owners. When the Revolution started, he was already leading an armed struggle for Tierra y Libertad (Land and Liberty).

Solemn and martial, a young Ajijic boy marched in Revolution Day parade. Parents take great pride in dressing up their kids for this colorful parade. In pre-Revolutionary days, a boy like this would have had little chance for education or advancement in life. He might have spent his life as a near-serf on a hacienda, or working in a mine or factory and owing the company store more than he could ever repay. His son would inherit the debt and be forced to work in his place after the father's death. Today, a child like this has access to an education up to the university level, health care, the minimum wage and other worker rights, including the right to work wherever he wants. This is not to say Mexico doesn't still have deep social and economic problems, and poverty on a large scale, but this boy has much better opportunities in life than his pre-Revolutionary ancestors.

Soldados y Adelitas. For all of Mexico's macho reputation, there was a time when women fought fiercely alongside the male soldiers. Although they originally followed their men to war to cook their food and take care of the wounded, women soon picked up weapons and became valued warriors in the field. A corrido, (ballad) called "Adelita" became popular when it was sung around the army campfires. It recalled a young woman named Adelita who went to war with her soldier boyfriend. Ever after, these women soldiers were called Las Adelitas. In addition to the two young women in the front row, notice the soldier with the violin behind them, probably even then thinking up a new corrido. The inscription on the lower left says Tuesday, 23 of April, 1912 and further information suggests that these were part of Zapata's army.

Modern-day soldados and Adelitas. Children in period costume march down Hidalgo street toward the plaza. Although there is still much that is macho in Mexican culture, women pursue most of the occupations that men do, particularly at the professional level. All three of the immigration attornies we have used are women, as are most of the dentists we have tried.

President Porfirio Diaz, pompous and medel-bedecked. I found this old photo of Porfirio Diaz, the dictator who held power for nearly 30 years before he was overthrown by revolutionary troops under Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa. Mexico advanced economically under Diaz, with new factories, oil fields, and thousands of miles of railroad. However, the fruits of this development flowed overwhelmingly to a small segment at the top of society, and to foreign corporations who dominated most of the key industries. Diaz maintained control through police-state tactics and rigged elections.

Ajijic parade shows off Porfiristas as well as Revolutionaries. The little girl above seems thrilled to be dressed in such finery. The little boy bears a remarkable resemblence to Porfirio Diaz in the previous picture. Under the "Porfiriate" there was a vast gap between the wealthy and the poor. The wealthy maintained their positions through debt laws, company stores, illegal land seizures, brutal repression of strikes and other such tactics. The greater the repression, the more resentment built, waiting only for a spark to ignite rebellion.

Pancho Villa was a bandit before he became a general. Villa grew up as a sharecropper in the northern state of Chihuahua. He experienced the arrogance and brutality found on some haciendas when one of the haciendados (ranch owners) raped his sister. After tracking the man down, he killed him, stole his horse, and fled to the mountains of Chihuahua for the life of a bandit. An aide to revolutionary leader Francisco Madero tracked him down and persuaded him to put the leadership skills he had developed as a bandit chieftain at the service of the Revolution. Madero's call for rebellion against Diaz was the spark that set off the Revolution. Villa was one of the key leaders who helped win it.

Pancho Villa rides again! A handsome young charro (cowboy) guides his horse skillfully through the crowd. This fellow's boots didn't near reach the stirrups, but he had full control of his mount. Ranch kids learn to ride literally almost before they can walk. I am often amazed to see a 700 lb. horse obediently taking direction from a 40 lb rider. The charro outfit, tooled saddle, and fine horse indicate this young charro has a fairly well-to-do father. Although Zapata and Villa were from the lower classes, many wealthier people supported the Revolution, particularly in the early stages. Porfirio Diaz' dictatorship shut out many talented and well-to-do people from leadership positions they felt they deserved.

Tough-looking troopers surround their chief. It was typical of Villa to wear the casual dress of his soldiers when he was in the field. I imagine it was one of the things they loved about their rough-and-ready leader. Here, he stands in the center of a heavily armed group adorned with the huge sombreros favored by the peasant armies of Villa and Zapata. Although they weren't as well-dressed as Diaz' federalistas, Villa's soldiers won most of their early battles, making up in bravery and revolutionary ardor for their sartorial deficiencies. Most of the rifles here appear to be German Mausers, the rifle of choice for all sides in the war, when they could get them. Its deadly qualities would soon be experienced by Allied soldiers on the battlefields of World War I Europe.

A rather more easy-going group of soldados. Kids in the Ajijic parade joke and poke one another, as young boys will do in any situation. Boys this age sometimes accompanied their fathers or older relatives into the army, and sometimes saw action. Kids grew up very young during the Revolution.

Villa poses with one of his many wives. Pancho Villa was reputed to have married 26 different women. There was no information with the picture indicating which one this was. Where he found the time to be married at all is a mystery to me. The Revolution kept him pretty busy for nearly 10 years.

Young love in the modern day. This pretty young girl seems to have a firm grasp on her escort for the parade. She is dressed in a beautifully woven skirt, an embroidered top and the obligatory rebozo tied across her chest. She seems to be contemplating her next move in the relationship. A typical male, he hasn't a clue what's up.

Pancho Villa rides with his army toward the border town of Ojinaga. After he seized Chihuahua, a substantial number of federalistas retreated north to Ojinaga, a town just across the Rio Grande from Presidio, Texas. Not wanting to leave this force behind him when he turned south toward Mexico City, Villa led his army to a resounding victory at Ojinaga. The battle sent many of the federalistas fleeing across the border into Texas to be interned by the US Army. They were among the first of a massive wave of Mexicans who crossed the border to escape the horrors of a war that cost the lives of as many as 1 out of 7 Mexicans. This is my favorite photo of Pancho Villa. He is completely unposed, dressed in his usual slovenly fashion when in the field, and is seen here demonstrating the superior horsemanship he developed as a bandit raider.

Mexican horsemanship didn't die with Pancho Villa. A charro dances his horse in time with a blaring brass band in the Ajijci Plaza. A fellow charro and spectators grin with appreciation at his skill. To see these highly trained horses dancing along the cobblestone streets is an amazing spectacle. The Charro Tradition began in Jalisco State, where I live.

Villa and Zapata enter Mexico city together, at the head of their troops. Pancho Villa is in the center of the second rank for horsemen. As it was a formal occasion, Villa wore a uniform. Just to the left of Villa, in the large sombrero, is Emiliano Zapata. Their armies jointly marched into the city, after ousting their enemy Carranza. Zapata's troops were disciplined, and city residents were amazed when they politely knocked on doors and asked for food. Villa's troops were as unruly as their bandit chieftain-turned general, and eventually Villa had to pull out of the city because of citizen complaints.

Charros canter down the street with the same esprit as the old revolutionary army. With a few bandoliers and Winchesters, they could have stepped right out of history. Charros are well organized and trained and take great pride in their traditions and skills.

Ready to sing or fight. This squad of revolutionary soldados is armed to the teeth with guns and musical instruments. The old man with the violin and the boy with the guitar probably accompanied them on many a corrido around the campfire. There are at least two types of corridos: epic and narrative. The epic corrido carries a tradition that goes back to the ancient Greece of Homer and the Viking sagas. It tells the stories of great heros and their deeds. The narrative tells of notable events such as train wrecks and great love affairs. The lyric quality of the corrido distinguishes it from other traditions. It is the voice of the people sung from the heart and accompanied, usually, by the guitar. Corridos are a musical art form still practiced today.

"La Cucaracha, la cucaracha..." This little boy belted out the famous marching corrido of Pancho Villa's Division of the North. This corrido, or at least its title, is probably one of the few Mexican songs familiar to most norteamericanos. It bemoans the cockroaches of army camp life, the lack of marijuana to smoke, and the desire to braid the beard of Venustiano Carranza, an enemy of Villa, into a hat band for their bandit-general. A corrido has potentially endless verses, limited only by the imagination (and probably the tequila supply) of the singer.

High tide for the people's Revolution. Villa (left center), and Zapata (right center) sit together in the National Palace in Mexico City after forcing their former ally Venustiano Carranza to flee. Carranza had refused to acknowledge the presidential choice of a convention of revolutionaries, wanting the job for himself. To me, this picture captures the different personalities of the two generals. Villa is ebullient and jocular. Zapata is brooding and a little dreamy. His Plan of Ayala was not only visionary but he put it into practical application with such effectiveness that US President Wilson's emissary declared the Zapata-controlled territory as an area of "true social revolution". Villa never quite got away from his bandit background, and had a habit of funding his revolutionary army with bank and train robberies and by kidnapping haciendados. He endorsed the Plan of Ayala but never produced anything comparable for the areas he controlled. Ultimately, both revolutionaries were assassinated by their enemies, Zapata in 1917 and Villa in 1923. After they died, revolutionary leaders of a more elite background assumed control, and although these new leaders implemented important reforms, the kind of social revolution envisioned by Zapata and endorsed by Villa died with them.

The future of Mexico. Two little girls peer out of a second floor window, near where I had set up on the roof of the Secret Garden restaurant so I could get overhead shots of the parade. Mexico's children are its future, and it must have a big future because it has so many. These two were darling and immediately wanted me to take their picture when they figured out what I was doing.

This ends my posting on the Mexican Revolution and Ajijic's Dia de la Revolucion. Please feel free to comment in the comments area below. If you ask a question, please leave your email address in the comment box so that I can respond.

Hasta luego! Jim

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Corn Harvest Fiesta at Raul's farm

Evangelina brandishes roasted corn ear at Raul's Corn Harvest Fiesta. Evangelina is a regular hiker and is married to Chuck, who leads the Friday hiking group. Last summer we met a local Mexican farmer named Raul during one of our several explorations of the wonderful cascadas (waterfalls) of Barranca Yerba Buena. He put aside his farm work and led us on a spectacular hike to the Inner Gorge falls. After that hike, Raul invited us to return in the Fall for a fiesta when he would harvest his corn crop. On the Corn Harvest Fiesta adventure, I was pretty busy and didn't have a lot of time to take photos, so many of what follow were taken by others. I have tried to give credit to the photographers, but if I missed any credits due, or mis-credited any shots, I apologize in advance. The photo above was by Chuck Boyd.

View of the south side Mt. Garcia looking west. Raul's farm sits high on a plateau overlooking a lush valley on the south side of the mountains which line the south shore of Lake Chapala. In late September, hikers from both the Tuesday and the Friday hiking groups took him up on his fiesta invitation. Many of the Tuesday regulars had been to the Barranca at one time or another, but this was the first time for most of the Friday group. We decided to combine the fiesta with hike up to the cascadas so the Friday folks could get a taste of this beautiful canyon. It fell to me to organize the outing, but I could never have done it without Chuck, who recuited several hikers with 4-wheel-drive vehicles, and Patricia, a Mexican hiker who was our liaison with Raul and his wife Germina, neither of whom speak English.

Mr. Hospitality, Raul serves up some roasted corn ears to the arriving hikers. Raul, seen above with the big grin and the straw hat, had been busy helping Germina prepare some roasted corn so the arriving hikers could whet their appetites before the hike. There was so much interest in this event that we ended up cramming 22 hikers into 5 4x4s for the 90 minute drive around behind the mountains lining the south side of the Lake. The road to Raul's farm begins just below the little town of Citala which is just east of Chamecuero on the map in this link. I was a little concerned about losing anyone from this rather large group, so I cautioned everyone against dawdling or wandering off down enticing side trails. With so many people, hiking at different speeds, and strung out over a large stretch of trail, it would have been easy to come up short a hiker or two when we got back to Raul's farm. In the event, my anxiety was unfounded, and everyone made it just fine.

Germina proudly shows off her bean crop. Germina took the lead to guide us through the farm to the main trail. Along the way, she was happy to field questions about her crop, obviously proud of the bountiful result of Raul and her hard work. The couple owns or maintains several substantial fields of beans and corn on the plateau overlooking the small town of Citala. In some of the fields, the two crops are planted together. The corn stalks form an ideal pole for the bean plant to climb, and the beans fix nitrogen into the soil for the nitrogen-hungry corn. This is a method of planting that long pre-dates the arrival of the Spanish in Mexico.

Scarecrows, Mexican-style. On the way through the fields, we noticed human sillouettes painted in white on flat rocks propped up against the dry stone walls. I suspected these might be scarecrows, and Raul confirmed it with his usual good-natured grin.

Bluffs line the south side of the valley, and above these bluffs lies yet another plateau. We had to drive up a steep, rugged, and unpaved farm road onto a broad plateau to get to Raul's farm. Once on the plateau, we found a line of deep green bluffs running east to west. The Inner Gorge of the Barranca cuts due south into these bluffs, before ending in a deep box canyon, into which drop the magnificent cascadas. On the plateau above the box canyon lies more farm land and a large reservoir, the source of the year-round water which flows over the falls, down the Barranca, and finally into the valley at the foot of the south side Mt. Garcia.

View of the valley below Mt. Garcia, looking due west. In the distance are the blue escarpments of the Tapalpa plateau. We couldn't have asked for better weather, just enough clouds to keep things cool, but interspersed with blue sky and warm sunshine. Photo above by Chuck Boyd.

Friend or foe? As we neared the trailhead into the canyon, we encountered a horse. He seemed amazed at this large group of odd-looking Gringos, and was frozen in indecision over whether to approach us or flee. We were probably more people than he had seen at one time in his life. Having grown up in and spent most of my life in a highly urbanized environment, I love these close encounters with the animals of Mexico.

A flash of gold, then a beautiful pose. Mexico is full of a large variety of beautiful mariposas (butterflies). My friend and fellow hiker Christopher took this shot. Amazingly, the mariposa remained motionless for a very long time, allowing Christopher to capture this great shot. Photo by C. Jordan English.

Evangelina enters the jungle. In late September, we still get a fair amount of rain, and the forest undergrowth had become almost impassable, except on well-defined trails. This was where I was sure we'd lose some hikers. A step or two up the trail and the person in front or in back disappears. A wrong turn could have split our party into two or more groups floundering about in this jungle. Fortunately, we had enough experienced hikers to keep things moving in the right direction. Photo by Chuck Boyd.

The green maze contained many unusual plants. These large leaves contained graceful sworls that caught the eye of the photographer. Photo by Chuck Boyd.

An iridescent insect explores a twig. Christopher is especially interested in insects, and will often lag far behind his hiking party to catch a shot of a particularly interesting bug. He has lately been providing me with a substantial collection of his insect photos, some of them truly beautiful, and I will do a special blog posting some time in the future to showcase them. Photo by C. Jordan English.

Rust-orange flowers grace the trailside. I haven't identified these pretty little flowers, so any help would be appreciated. In our area, Spring is the hot, dry, brown season, with few wildflowers. October is when our wildflowers explode all over the mountains.

Evangelina at the cave. There are several caves in and around the Barranca. In this one we found a live bat, which flew out as soon as someone entered. We also found several old pop bottles, indicating that the local people used the cave upon occasion. I have no doubt this cave has seen many occupants over several thousand years. Photo by Chuck Boyd.

At last, the cascada shimmers in the distance. We could hear the falls long before we could see them. Finally, we began to catch glimpses of them through the heavy growth. Here you can only see the top 20 feet or so of the 150+ feet of the upper falls. The dark objects on the lower right are large seed pods hanging from tree branches.

The cascadas drop vertically to a deep pool in the box canyon. Once again, this shot only captures the middle section of the falls. Because of the undergrowth, the narrowness of the canyon, and the precarious ledges closer to the falls, it was difficult to get one shot of the whole cascada. We have yet to find a way down into the base of this box canyon. Raul told us there is a way, but it is very steep and dangerous without ropes. Lacking equipment, we decided to put that adventure off to a future hike.

Caroline braves the cliff edge for a photo. Caroline is one of the more adventurous of the hikers. Here she peers over the cliff edge down a vertical 150+ feet to the brown water of the box canyon's bottom. Many of the hikers, both men and women, shied from appoaching this rather intimidating drop-off. Obviously vertigo is not one of Caroline's phobias. The cascada spouts from the canyon's rim about 30 feet to Caroline's left. The flat rock she is lying upon is quite large, and easily accomodated all 22 hikers plus Raul and Germina. After a rest, we regrouped for the hike back to our fiesta feast.

Anne and Jim meet a friend. As we entered the farm road leading back to Raul's place, we encountered this little fellow. He may well be the same burro we made friends with some months ago, when one of our hiking party mesmerized a similar burro with celery and peanut butter treats. As before, the burro was wearing a rustic saddle and bridle, but the owner was nowhere to be found. The animal was extraordinarily friendly and seemed to crave pets and attention. We obliged, as did numerous others of our party.

Mexican farmers make good use of local materials at hand. Raul separates his fields with loose stone walls, punctuated by "Mexican fencepost" cactus. This allows him to protect his crops from hungry horses, cattle, and burros, but also provides some place to pile up the incredible number of stones these field produce. It often seemed there were more rocks than dirt. When I first hiked the area last Spring, the fields were fallow and I assumed they were good only for pasture. Then, during the summer and Fall, I realized that the farmers not only planted these fields, but harvested large crops from them. How they manage to plow is still a mystery to me.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch... Raul and Germina chatted with Sally (on left) as the Corn Harvest Fiesta got fully under way back at their rustic farm casita. They used large stones from the fields to build up walls on three sides. Tree trunks formed the supporting posts and straight branches acted as cross braces for the old-fashioned clay-tile roof. The whole thing was held together by twine. Sections of logs formed seats, and a flat rusty piece of iron over large rocks formed a cooking stove. They actually live in town, but can use this primative but homey place when they are working on their fields. I imagine that campesinos have used structures like this from at least Spanish colonial times.

A final note: at first I was blown away by the easy-going generosity of Raul and Germina. They were two of the nicest people I have encountered in Mexico. However, as I have explored deeper into Mexico's back country, I have met with similar hospitality everywhere. Mexico, for all its problems, is a fabulous country full of warm and friendly people.

I hope you enjoyed Raul and Germina's Corn Fiesta Harvest as much as all we hikers did. Comments are welcome and encouraged. You can either used the comments section at the end of this post, or send me an email directly. If you use the comments section for a question, please put in your email so I can answer you.

Hasta luego! Jim

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Zacatecas Part 6: The Magic Pueblo of Jerez

A visit to a Pueblo Magico. Above, the entrance gate of of El Santuario de Nuestra Senora de la Soledad in Jerez is draped with banners for a fiesta. Jerez is about the same distance southwest from Zacatecas as the La Quemada ruins, 57 kilometers or about 25 miles, but it is a little further west. Both can be visited on the same day-trip. A visit to Jerez was one of Carole's priorities because of its Magic Pueblo status. To gain this status, a town in Mexico must have special architectural, historical, or cultural aspects. Jerez has all three, and more.

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Solitude. The church as built in 1805 in the neoclassic style that had begun to replace the baroque. El Santuario is famous for its resemblance to a very famous sanctuary in Spain called Santiago de Compostela. Nuestra Senora de la Soledad is the patron saint of Jerez and is reported to have interceded to bring military victories three times to forces protecting the town.

A town born under seige. Above, the side view of the Sanctuary shows the dome over the main altar area. Apparently, Jerez needed divine help because the indigenous inhabitants had some serious objections to the Spanish arrival. From the earliest days of Spanish colonization in 1531, various tribes including the Zapotecs and the Guachichiles fought them bitterly. In the Jerez area, the locals waged such an intense war that the Spanish had to abandon the town for a time and withdraw to safer precincts. For nearly 50 years, the indigenous people attacked settlements and--even worse from the Spanish point of view--the silver caravans from Zacatecas to Guadalajara.

Interior of La Senora de la Soledad. The cool, quiet, dim interior of the church lends itself to prayer and contemplation. Between 1550 and 1570, the indigenous people's attacks were incessant. Finally in 1570, a Spanish captain named Pedro Carrillo Davila set up a military post which became a permanent settlement called Jerez de la Frontera. The name was possibly taken from a similar town in Spanish Andalusia which was known for its fortified wine called sherry, or Jerez in Spanish.

A view of the arched ceiling of the Sanctuary. I took the shot above from directly below the chandelier, which appears as a starburst from below. I'm always impressed by the fine detail in features of colonial religious architecture which might otherwise be overlooked, such as the ceiling. Jerez was an outlying town of other jurisdictions until after the War of Independence when in 1824 it achieved the status of municipality, roughly equivalent to a US county.

Richly decorated pulpit adorns the side of the interior of the Sanctuary. The nearby Cardos mountains probably supplied the wood for this creation. In 2005 the municipality of Jerez had a population of 56,980, of which 38,624 live in the town of Jerez, which corresponds to a county seat. Jerez is surrounded by the flat, lush farmland of the Malpaso Valley. The town seems prosperous, and the people we met were very friendly and outgoing.

A lush, beautifully tended town Plaza. As with most towns we have visited in Mexico, the Plaza was central to everything else. The one in Jerez was obviously the pride of the community. Also, like nearly every other plaza we have seen, the centerpiece was the kiosco, or bandstand in the middle. This one was unusual because there was an office underneath housing the tourist bureau. Usually there are no windows on the bottom of a kiosco and the room is used for storage if anything. With windows all around looking out on the beautiful greenery, it seemed like a great work location, as well as making a lot of sense for a tourist office. Too often, in my experience, tourist offices are in obscure locations.

Statue forms an unusual fountain. The sculptor of this classical 19th Century fountain decided the water should flow from the pitcher in one hand of the goddess, to the cup in the other. Unfortunately, the water was not turned on during our visit, so I didn't get to see it in action. It would have made an interesting photo with the light glinting off the stream of water. Ripe oranges dangle from the tree in the background.

Another unusual statue. Denis, our Irish friend, commented that he had never seen a statue with glasses. Neither had I, until now. Candelario Huizar, shown above, was a musician and composer born in Jerez. During the Revolution, he was saxaphone player in the brass band of the Division of the North, Pancho Villa's army. After the war, he furthered his musical studies and became famous for melding Mexican folk music into classical music forms, in the process writing four symphonies. Huizar is not the only great artist celebrated in Jerez. While I was browsing around the plaza, friendly local cab drivers accosted me and asked if I knew that poet Ramon Lopez Velarde was born here. I thanked my stars that I had done a little research, because they were suitably impressed that a visiting Gringo would know about Velarde, who is considered Mexico's greatest poet. I seriously doubt that if I stopped a random American on the streets of the US, he or she would be able to name a great American poet. Mexicans are very proud of their culture, and should be.

Portales shade the walkway along one side of the street facing the Plaza. Portales have an ancient history. 500 years ago, Phillip II of Spain (the same one who sent the Armada against Elizabeth I of England), decreed that Mexican plazas should all have these covered walkways. His intent was to provide shelter from rain and scorching sun to those who wished to conduct business around the plaza. A rather enlightened decree, I thought. 500 years later, old portales like these can be found everywhere in Mexico.

Pedestrian-only street, near the Plaza. More Mexican cities and towns are designating streets around plazas to be auto-free, a practice I welcome. Here, Jerez officials have moved wrought-iron benches out into the street. The big fiesta of the year is called El Festival de Primavera (Spring Break) during Easter Week. Jerez is famous for its Spring Break Charreadas (rodeos) with traditional dances, horse races and other cultural activities. On Holy Saturday, effigies of Judas are burned, followed by a huge Desfile de los Charros (cowboy parade). This is another aspect of Jerez that brought it the Pueblo Magico designation.

Arteseanas y antiguidades. Folk art and antiquities are the goods this store boasts of in its sign. I spotted this store early in our visit and made sure to stop by before we left. While most of the goods inside were the usual tourist knick knacks, there was quite a selection of old harnesses, bits, bridles, and other antique horse equipment, along with well used sombreros and serapes.

We selected the Hotel Jardin as our lunch spot. The hotel faces the Plaza and provided an excellent and very inexpensive lunch. Almost immediately we were approached by a friendly man who turned out to be a Mexican-American guest at the hotel, down visiting family. During lunch, we were serenaded by a group of wandering musicians. The rooms at the hotel were cozy and comfortable-looking, and also very inexpensive. When we visit the area again, we intend to try out the Hotel Jardin.

An international lineup. From the left, Carole (US), Verena (Germany), Julika (Germany), Denis (Ireland). The geographical mixture of our group turned out to be very interesting and entertaining, as our different cultural backgrounds interacted with the Mexican culture we were encountering.

This completes Part 6--the last part--of my Zacatecas series. I hope you have enjoyed Jerez and the rest of our Zacatecas adventure. My next posting will jump back a couple of months to the Corn Harvest Fiesta we attended on Raul's farm south of Lake Chapala.

As always, I love hearing from people. If you'd like to respond, you can leave a comment in the section below. If you want to ask a question, please leave an email address so I can respond.

Hasta luego, Jim